Here’s why the 2018 Ford Fiesta ST is pure hot hatch nirvana
We’ve driven the latest fast Ford on road and track to find out if it’s any good…
If you apply the ‘difficult’ third album theory to cars – then Ford faced a massive challenge when making the third generation Fiesta ST.
As in, how exactly do you follow up a hot hatch that was brilliant at everything?
First up, lose a cylinder
Yep, you read that correctly – the engine in the new ST is a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged unit good for 197bhp and 214lb-ft of torque. Giving it proper hot hatch pace to keep up with the Cosworth-powered Fords of old, with the 0-62mph dash dispensed in a mere 6.5 seconds before hitting 144mph of maximum velocity.
The new motor is quick revving and makes a great noise, producing a burbling sound with accompanying exhaust bangs during high RPM gear changes (when selecting Sport and Track mode from Normal) via the slick six-speed manual box making you grin the harder you push it.
Add clever new tech for cornering brilliance
For this third generation Fiesta ST, Ford fitted clever frequency selective dampers giving it a very composed ride for a hot hatch.
This fancy setup is aided by an optional Quaife mechanical limited slip differential at the front and curved torque vectoring rear springs. Combine all of this with the new faster steering, the slick manual gearbox, and the Fiesta ST is a playful little hooligan of a car in the twisty stuff.
Push it hard in the corners, including dangling a rear wheel in the air and it grips brilliantly remaining poised and agile only being unsettled occasionally by poor road surfaces.
One addition via the optional performance pack (£850 including the Quaife diff) is launch control. I found literally nowhere to use it aside from the Goodwood Hillclimb start line – making it a bit gimmicky as tyre-smoking fast starts on public roads are, you know, very frowned upon after all.
As part of my test drive, I also took in several laps of the Goodwood Circuit in “Track” mode – here, this small, fast Ford felt ruddy quick on this very speedy track. If you’re wondering how quick? Try 112mph on the fastest section – the downside was, of course, the inevitable cooking of the brakes and tyres after a 15-minute session.
Get the looks and practicality just right
OK, so the looks of the new ST might seem a bit tame to some. Here though, I think Ford nailed it with the design. The nose of the car sports the traditional honeycomb grille along with a deeper front bumper. At the back it’s near standard looking – the twin exhaust and rear diffuser being the only hints of the fury lurking beneath the bonnet in what is a great looking fast Ford.
The interior is as you’d expect for a revamped small Ford. You get a decent amount of standard kit which is very slightly spoiled by some cheap looking plastics and the fiddly location of the mode button all the way down by the gearstick – but overall, it’s a massive improvement over the old car.
One highlight is the excellent Recaro seats – these are among the best I have ever experienced in a road car. They are super comfy for normal driving while holding you snugly in full hooligan mode on a back road.
Add it all together, and you get hot hatch greatness
What Ford has done is build a car that is better in every single way than the outgoing model. It is a truly quick hot hatch boasting precise dialled-in handling that’s huge fun to drive in the real world.
Add in the practicality and daily drivability for the £20k asking price, and the new Fiesta ST has to be the performance bargain of 2018.
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